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No I’m not – A reply to Nathalie’s stunning discovery

January 31, 2009


No, I’m not.
A girl :)

Mind you, this is not the first time this happened to me. Just a few days ago I just got my subscription renewal for Cornucopia magazine which is on the name Ms. I.T. For some time these were so frequent that I started collecting my misspelled, misscountried and missgendered address labels. Lately, it happens more with email correspondence or at conferences, like the one in Dresden two years ago when our panel chair was expecting a somewhat more clean shaven colleague from Slovenia. And then there are the occasional quotes of my articles that I stumble across on google and my wise, prophetic words get introduced with “she claims that…”. Seriously, how hard it is to check it these days. Just type “Ilija” into a browser and search photos. But these days these ‘incidents’ are the fun ones, meaning that other people get embarrassed and I get to be the cool dude that doesn’t mind.

But when I was a kid, this was a matter of great frustration. Or more precisely, of anger and rage. For example, my mother would be buying stuff in a store and the kind clerk would look at me and then to my mom and casually comment: “Ooh, you have  such a lovely little girl.” Or: “She has such pretty, big eyes.” And before my mom could say anything, you would hear loud mumbling and grumbling from below the counter, or an occasional outcry: “No I’m not, I’m a boy!!! A boy!!!” And than mom would have to listen to me complaining on the matter all the way home. A few years ago as I was looking at my childhood photographs, I suddenly noticed. Poor clerks, shop assistants, bus conductors, the whole lot. My haircut!!!!!! What was she thinking?!!!! I mean, I really could not blame those people.

What I just started wondering is what kind of a girl/woman people expect me to be? Tall/short, black/blond all that stuff. I missed quite some opportunities but perhaps Nathalie could help me out a bit in outlining my feminine side :)

P.S. I now added a little note to “About grasswire”.
P.P.S. Illustration is from a children’s cuttlery set box from my clerk-grumbling period that we got unused/unopened at the flea market a few years ago and that Tamara now uses.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Na-na permalink
    February 2, 2009 9:44 pm

    Well, don’t you think you owe us a photo of that haircut? :) Missy :)

    But really, I giggled through this post. I just cannot see you as a woman. Can NOT!

  2. February 11, 2009 7:25 pm

    I’m soooo sorry! I’m not sure why I assumed you were a girl. I think there was a picture one day with rather feminine looking shoes on the floor. Am I digging myself further in trouble? :-)
    It’s not as if you had done much to enlighten us with your gender… nathaliewithanh: obviously a girl. Grasswire? Er….
    note: we definitely need a picture of that haircut to be able to form an informed opinion.

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